THE RED HEIFER| A MODERN TRAGEDY #4
Be sure to read the previous installments in this series, as we examine the claims that the recent birth of (yet another) red heifer means that we are in the last days, and that the temple in Jerusalem is ready to be re-dedicated. #1 #2 #3
Both Jews and dispensational Christians are excited about the birth of the red heifer in Israel. While they have different perspectives both groups anticipate the reestablishment of the red heifer sacrifice. Both groups fail to see in Jesus the fulfillment and expiration of that sacrifice.
God decreed that when the Old Testament was completely fulfilled it would pass away (Matthew 5:17-18). If Christ has not completely fulfilled the prophetic aspect of the red heifer sacrifice the Old Law is still in effect. Thus, if death has not been completely purged the law is still in effect. If he has fulfilled the prophetic element of that offering the Old Law has passed—and death has been abolished.
In Colossians 2:14-16 and Hebrews 10:1-4 the writer says the Old Covenant sacrifices were a “shadow of good things (about) to come.” Both passages also say that Jesus is the substance or reality to which those shadows pointed. Thus, the completion of Jesus’ work would signal the termination of the Old Covenant and its sacrificial system.
God never intended for animal sacrifices to be permanent: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire” (Hebrews 10:5). The Lord always pointed Israel beyond those animal offerings to the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus. He is the perfect, one time for all time sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:1-12).
As long as that old system–including the red heifer sacrifice–stood, man could (can!) have no access to God (Hebrews 9:6-10– more on this later). That old system would only stand until “the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:10); but that system was “ready to vanish away” when Hebrews was written (Hebrews 8:13).
Christ, The Red Heifer, and the Fulfillment of Prophecy
His sacrifice accomplishes deliverance from sin and death. Simply stated, if Christ’s sacrifice delivers us from sin, it delivers us from death.
Christ’s sacrifice lacks nothing. Reestablishment of the red heifer sacrifice could add nothing to it.
Christ’s sacrifice is the reality anticipated by the “shadow” of the red heifer offering.
Christ’s sacrifice is better than the red heifer sacrifice (Hebrews 9:13-14). A restoration of the red heifer sacrifice would be the re-institution of an inferior system.
The ashes of the red heifer “sanctified to the purifying of the flesh.” Jesus sacrifice cleanses the conscience.
The cleansing of the red heifer sacrifice cleansed from the defilement of physical death. The sacrifice of Christ gives eternal life, (Hebrews 9:15).
Jehovah never took pleasure in “burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin” (Hebrews 10:6-7). To seek the restoration of those sacrifices is to return to what He never desired.
Christ’s death and his parousia destroyed death and brought life to full reality. The shadows of the old system have given way to the reality.
Jesus’ sacrifice is superior to the red heifer sacrifice. Jesus is the fulfillment of the sacrificial system of Old Covenant Israel. Jesus is the cessation of the Old Covenant system. Let us not be guilty of rejecting the perfect, efficacious deliverance from death because of a zealous but misguided zeal over the birth of a red calf in Israel. The sacrifice of the red heifer–or a thousand like her– can never equal the sacrifice of Jesus.
In our next installment of this series, we will demonstrate that while we are reading and hearing about the prophetic significance of the latest Red Heifer, those making the claims are guilty of reimposing the Law of Moses– and this is a horrible theological tragedy. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for a study of the typological nature of all of Israel’s sacrifices, and how they all pointed to Christ.